Posts Tagged ‘calories’
Doesn’t it seem like Starbucks and other coffee houses come out with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes sooner and earlier each year? I guess I’m okay with this since I’ve always loved the season of fall most of all. Perhaps because while living in New England as a child, the changing leaves offered a range of beautiful colors. Or maybe it was the crisp Northeast sweater weather (that demanded clothing that hid some of my figure flaws — which I was admittedly concerned about as an extremely overweight kid). Or it could have been that autumn acted as an annual sign that Christmas was on its way. Whichever. Suffice it to say, I consider autumn to be a golden time of year.
Today, living in Los Angeles, there’s not a lot of autumn to be had. Sure, there are a few maple trees (with changing leaves) in Beverly Hills. And every now and then we get a cooler day that requires a sweatshirt in the morning hours (before the temperature gives out to LA’s warm sunshine by noontime). Thus, one must be creative when it comes to feeling like it’s autumn. Some of you may be familiar with warm-weather-autumn drill: plastic fall-leaf wreath hanging on the door, a mini Styrofoam pumpkin or two lying around the house, an autumn-scented candle burning in the evening (even as the air conditioner blows), etc.
Those who know me won’t be surprised that one of my go-to items for a “hit” of autumn is an edible (well, drinkable) one. For years now, I’ve been addicted (potential 12-step-group-addicted) to Pumpkin Spice Lattes (AKA PSL or, as I refer to them, “fall in a cup”). And as someone who once weighed over 450 pounds, I was risking the encouragement of my past food addiction by ordering an extra large size and drinking down every last autumn-y (read: sugary) drop.
I was not only committed to downing this drink throughout the fall season, but virtually every day of the fall season. Needless to say that even before Thanksgiving, the results of this annual endeavor would start to show themselves in the form of tighter jeans and more pronounced love handles. In other words, my love of fall was adding up (calorie-wise) fast.
Thus, one sad day, I decided I had to abandon my love of “fall in a cup” and simply make do with the plastic wreath. But as usual, the denial of something led to the over-consumption of it. It did not matter that I’d lost over 250 pounds of excess weight over a decade before and had kept it off ever since. When it came to “fall in a cup,” I was going down. Or my weight was going up as it were. As usual, denial led to obsession and obsession led to… Well, let’s just say I feel like I have personally funded many of the more recent coffee places that have opened up in my area.
Then I hit upon an amazing, original, highly innovative idea… To treat these magical and seductive Pumpkin Spice Lattes as a treat (yeah, that’s right — categorize them in an appropriate way). I decided I was going to indulge — but was going to do so in a fashion that wouldn’t harm my psyche or extend my waistline.
So I blew out my autumn-scented candle, hopped over the Styrofoam pumpkins, trotted past my plastic wreath, and marched into my nearest coffee joint, where I ordered up a small Pumpkin Spice Latte.
As I pressed the smaller sippy cup-like lid to my lips, I wondered if I’d get the same autumnal rush that I did from lifting the larger size to my mouth. And, to my surprise, I did. The smallest Pumpkin Spice Latte was just as delicious, just as tasty, just as soothing — and offered just as much “fall in a cup” as its giant predecessor had before it. In fact, I didn’t even suck out the last sip like I usually did with the larger size (as if I were Sandra Bullock’s astronaut character in Gravity, trying to get a last gasp of oxygen in space). Instead, I enjoyed most of the drink, decided I was finished and tossed it.
Of course, the next day, I wanted another one. And here’s where I tried out another innovative tactic. “Sure, Gregg… You can have another one… Next week.” Yeah, that’s right. I acknowledged I wanted it, let myself know when I could have it, and then gave myself several days to anticipate it. And when that “lucky day” rolled around, I got another small one and enjoyed every reasonable ounce.
It turns out what I’d always heard was true: Less is more. And I marvel at this fact as much today (at around 175 pounds) as I did when I weighed over 450 pounds. I guess there will always be lessons we can learn and new adaptations we can make (to the way we consume treats) no matter what end of the scale we find ourselves at. And this is good news. Because it means we can treat ourselves, when appropriate — as long as it’s with portions that are equally appropriate.
Now, one should keep in mind that Pumpkin Spice Lattes contain calories we all should be aware of and factor into our daily totals. But when these calories are consumed just once a week (or even less often), they’re not going to hurt your weight loss or weight maintenance plan one bit. Again, it’s all about moderation. This means not denying one’s self as much as it does not overdoing it. (Win-win for “moderation,” y’all.)
At long last, my love of autumn (and devotion to “fall in a cup”) can be celebrated without worry — even here in hot n’ sunny Los Angeles. And this means whatever food or treat obsessions you have can be handled in the same way. Less is more. But not too much less. Get it?
Photo Source: Eater.com
This Easter Sunday, why not borrow a little humor from comedian and actress Caroline Rhea, who reminds us that dieting is allowed to be a laughing matter. In fact, the more of a sense of humor we have in regard to ourselves and even our life goals, the better. Life and dieting don’t have to be so serious.
So instead of stressing out about chocolate and Easter candy today, take a breath. Inhale in. Exhale out. And remember today is just one day. Enjoy yourself. And if that means taking an extra power walk to balance out some of the extra calories, then do that (perhaps while listening to a podcast that makes you laugh). It’s all about balance… And humor… And loving yourself every step (and nibble) of the way!
Sometimes the smallest changes can bring about the biggest rewards. Recently, I put this to the test by adding chia seeds to my all-natural peanut butter. Although many people soak their chia seeds first, I added mine raw. I like the crunch factor. And the added calories are minimal. It really gives peanut butter a twist… And makes a healthy breakfast (like the one seen here) brand new again. After all, variety is the spice of life.
So what’s one of your regular, go-to healthy-eating meals that you can add a twist or a changeup to? Think about, then do it. While relying on the tried-and-true can be a stable way to keep the excess calories at bay, it’s still important to prevent food boredom from creeping into not just our palate, but our psyche.
Don’t take this image the wrong way. Muffin tops are beautiful. Heck, muffins themselves are beautiful. Every body is beautiful – exactly as it is right in this moment. You can be sure of that (and anyone who tells you different is full of crap).
But that being said, there are many of us who want to make healthy changes that can help us to not only feel better, but to also put on our clothes without having to hold our breath or offer up a prayer for strength (literally) when zipping up.
This can require making choices a little differently than we have in the past. Like choosing water over cake for example. Not always. But often. Changes like this remind us that cake is a treat (as opposed to an everyday requirement). We can’t say the same for water, which is absolutely necessary for our survival and for our transformation.
So without shaming yourself (which is never productive), ask yourself what you really want next time you’re tempted by something sweet (that might add a few too many calories or artificial ingredients to your daily intake). Maybe a glass of water and vigorous walk is what your body, mind and soul are really craving. If so, give your body that. And if you absolutely must have the cake (and I’ll admit there are times that’s true), then have a reasonable slice – and then have a glass of water and go for a vigorous walk. (See what I did there?)
It’s all about balance, moderation and your overall goals. And you, my amazing, beautiful friend, are worth it!
Nutrition rockstar Joy Bauer (seen regularly on NBC’s TODAY show) has a brand new book called From Junk Food to Joy Food, which is chock full of recipe makeovers that takes everyday favorites (each loaded with calories, salt, etc.) and swaps them out for brand new, healthier recipes — each of which guarantees the same amount of flavor and satisfaction (but without the food hangover).
From Junk Food to Joy Food (which also happens to feature gorgeous food photography) is based on Joy’s popular ongoing series on NBC’s TODAY show, which transforms fattening favorites — including Barbecue Ribs, Vegetable Lo Mein, Boston Cream Pie, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chocolate Crunch Bars, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and even Devil Dogs — into lightened-up versions that even those trying to lose excess weight can enjoy any time. Says Joy, herself, “People who are tired of restrictive eating plans, juice fasts, and other programs that forbid favorite fare will love this new way of eating.”
Joy has always been someone who inspires me. And lucky for us Just Stoppers, she’s allowed me to feature one of the delicious recipes from her book here. This Apple Cobbler Oatmeal makes for the perfect weekday breakfast — or even a fun brunch idea for friends and family on the weekends. And we don’t have to “go off” of our diets or healthy eating plans to make and enjoy it. Joy also uses all natural ingredients in the recipe, which is a big plus.
JOY BAUER’S APPLE COBBLER OATMEAL
Junk Food version (before): 420 calories
Joy Food version (after): 246 calories
2 teaspoons whipped butter
1 apple, finely chopped with the skin on
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ¾ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the butter to a skillet and place over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped apple and cinnamon. Stir to combine and sauté until they are just cooked but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the oats and almond milk in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the vanilla. Split the oatmeal between 2 bowls and top each with half of the apple-cinnamon mixture. (Makes 2 servings.)
Photo Source: Joy Bauer